We met with our mission leadership this week. It is always a joy to be with them. We truly are grateful for what they do and who they are. 

The Mission Leadership Council

One of the things we discussed this week was our Standards of Excellence. Each mission president has the opportunity to develop and set standards specific to his mission. Several months ago, with the help of the mission leaders, we developed four Standards of Excellence. We call them our BLPP. The missionaries report on their BLPP each week in their letters to the President. 

Samoa Apia Mission BLLP:

B-2 Baptisms per month
L-20 Lessons taught per week
P-7 Planning sessions per week
P-5 Perfect mornings per week

Elder Pearson shared with our missionaries several months ago that it is easy to tell what kind of a missionary someone is by looking at his/her planner. With a good plan, comes a great day. Lessons taught include lessons to members as well as investigators. A perfect morning includes getting up at 6:30, praying, exercising, eating, showering, dressing like a missionary, personal study and companionship study. The standard is five because Sundays and P-days follow a different schedule. The missionaries can still achieve a perfect morning on those days; they just look different for each companionship. 

It has been exciting to see the missionaries responding to these Standards. Many, many of our missionaries exceed these standards every single week. We have witnessed a direct correlation in their success and their happiness when they achieve the Standards. I think most of it comes from knowing that the effort is what really counts. We can't always be perfect in performance, but we can always be perfect in effort. Even those who may fall short on lessons or baptisms can look to their planning and their perfect mornings and know they are doing all that they can. It is in those times when we work hard and fall short that our faith is stretched and we turn more sincerely to the Lord. 

We found these BLPP missionaries at a Stake Conference today!

I often wonder if we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints forget the constant nature of the help we receive from our Heavenly Father. We learn in 2 Nephi 25:23 (Book of Mormon), "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." I fear that we focus too intensely on the "after all we can do" part, believing that His grace and help will finish off what we have so earnestly tried to accomplish. Is it possible that we are reading it wrong? Do we miss the true meaning? Could the meaning be that "after all," you can never do enough and without Him we will never be enough? Elder Todd D. Christofferson explained, "After here does not refer to a sequence or chronology. It means beyond or above. The Lord will provide all that is needed beyond our capacity to accomplish in repenting and becoming reconciled to God. His aid is not reserved or delayed until the end, but is constantly with us in the journey." I am blessed to witness His aid in the lives of our missionaries even and most often when they struggle. 

Elder Christofferson continues, "I am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. We do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help-divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so there is something for God to help us with."

As missionaries go to work and take responsibility in achieving the Standards of Excellence, God makes up what they lack. I see it every single day here without exception. Nephi had it right when he said, "I will go and do as the Lord has commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, SAVE HE SHALL PREPARE A WAY FOR THEM that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them." Is that not the most amazing thing? God asks us to do something and then prepares a way through his grace to achieve what He has asked! We simply must be willing.

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